Wheat crop looks promising
Winter wheat conditions slipped slightly last week as a result of dry conditions which persist in much of the southern Great Plains. However, according to reports, crop progress is still considered good and may allow for improved grazing prospects for feeder and stocker cattle, particularly when compared to last year. The news is good for stocker operators who rely on wheat pasture for winter grazing and wheat growers who are currently receiving much improved prices for wheat as a result of depressed yields in other countries. Last Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade, December wheat futures were trading higher at $4.78 per bushel. March and May 2007 contracts were also four cents higher, both trading at $4.98 per bushel.
Although still slightly better than normal, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) last week rated the winter wheat crop as 11 percent excellent and 46 percent good, nationally. In the 18 largest winter wheat growing states, 34 percent was rated fair and only 9 percent poor or very poor. In Texas, 48 percent of the crop was rated good or excellent and 42 percent was rated fair. That compares to 54 percent good or excellent and 37 percent fair the first week of November.
In Oklahoma last week, similar dry conditions were also causing a slight decline in conditions. According to NASS reports, 45 percent of the crop was rated good to excellent. Thirty-four percent was rated fair and 21 percent poor or very poor. Those numbers compare with 46 percent good to excellent, 31 percent fair and 23 percent poor or very poor at the start of November. Analysts said some scattered rain across the state helped to improve soil conditions and as with much of the Great Plains region, record setting warmth over the past three weeks has promoted late-season growth in areas with adequate moisture.
Last week, USDA’s Joint Ag Weather Facility said high temperatures exceeding 70 degrees were expected as far north as South Dakota. However, USDA forecasters noted that dry conditions will continue to take a toll in much of Oklahoma.
However, bolstered by timely rain, the Kansas winter wheat crop appears to have a good start, NASS reported last Monday. The agency rated 10 percent of the Kansas crop excellent and 47 percent good. Thirty-six percent was in fair condition, while 7 percent of the crop was in poor to very poor condition. Wheat planting has progressed ahead of last year and the five-year average. About 93 percent of the Kansas crop has been planted, NASS reported, and about 71 percent has emerged.
In the Rocky Mountain region, Colorado’s wheat crop continues to progress, with 74 percent of the crop rated good or excellent, 20 percent receiving a rating of fair and only 6 percent poor or very poor. Montana’s wheat planting is also looking good with 62 percent rated good or excellent, 34 percent fair and only 4 percent poor.
Along the West Coast, USDA said rain and snow showers from northern California to Washington have saturated coastal areas causing widespread flooding. However, farther inland, the rain has been a benefit to the wheat crop in the Pacific Coast states.
In California last week, 83 percent of the winter wheat crop was rated good or excellent and 17 percent was rated fair. None of the crop in the state was rated lower. In Oregon, similar ratings were reported. According to NASS last week, 76 percent of the crop was considered good or excellent and 24 percent of the crop was rated fair. Farther north in Washington, 69 percent of the crop was good to excellent and 25 percent was called fair, with only 6 percent of the crop receiving a rating of poor or very poor.